In 17th-century France, Father Urbain Grandier seeks to protect the city of Loudun from the corrupt establishment of Cardinal Richelieu. Hysteria occurs within the city when he is accused of witchcraft by a sexually repressed nun.
Nora Walker is told that her British fighter pilot husband is missing in action and presumed killed in World War II. On V.E. Day, Nora gives birth to their son, who she names Tommy. While Tommy is an adolescent, Nora marries Frank, a shifty camp counselor. Shortly thereafter, Tommy suffers an emotionally traumatic experience associated with his father and step-father, which, based on things told to him at that time, results in him becoming deaf, dumb and blind, a situation which several people exploit for their own pleasure. As Nora tries several things to bring Tommy out of his psychosomatic disabilities, Tommy, now a young man, happens upon pinball as a stimulus. Playing by intuition, Tommy becomes a pinball master, which in turn makes him, and by association Nora and Frank, rich and famous. Nora literally shatters Tommy to his awakening, which ultimately leads to both the family's rise and downfall as people initially try to emulate Tommy's path then rebel against it. Written by
Tommy is one of those films I can watch again and again. I guess I first saw it when I was about 15, and what made most immediate impact was the music. Strident and tightly coupled to the plot. The Who are brilliant, and Elton John as the Pinball Wizard is just mind blowing (if slightly camp).
I have since watched it countless times and it wasn't til I watched it in, how shall I put this, an illegal state of mind, that I actually realised how well the film hangs together and it's real meaning. Up until then I mainly watched it for the music, but after that it became a whole different ballgame, and I watched it to extract more of what Ken Russell was really trying to get at.
Anyone younger than about 30 probably will not understand this film at all, but if you are of the right generation, see it a couple of times because you may not get the meaning the first viewing.
Several memorable performances - Elton John as the Pinball Wizard, Keith Moon as Uncle Ernie, Ann Margaret as Tommy's mother and - of course - Ollie Reed who has never done a bad film.
48 of 71 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?